Because of the sudden increase in the demand for energy in recent
years and the uncertain supply of petroleum in the future, there has been
a steep rise in petroleum prices. Further, there is an urgent need to greatly
reduce greenhouse gases to prevent global warming, as shown by the Kyoto
Protocol. On the other hand, worldwide energy consumption and electrification
ratios are predicted to increase steadily in the future, and it is important
that, in the field of energy, we work on achieving a low-carbon society
as a measure for combating global warming. To freely control electric power
and use it with a high degree of efficiency, we expect that it will be
extremely effective to apply electronics to electrical power technologies.
On the other hand, exacting technical developments peculiar to the field
of energy are necessary, such as reducing power loss and increasing reliability
in devices. From this point of view, energy saving device technology is
included as an important item in the technical strategy map and the energy
reduction strategy of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and
a fusion of electronics and techniques for controlling electric power are
important technical problems that must be worked on by AIST as we move
forward. Among these, advanced power electronics using wide-gap semiconductors
typified by SiC are an approach with the greatest expectations.
At this research center, our goal is to establish and demonstrate technologies for power switching devices and electric power conversion equipment such as inverter that make use of wide-gap semiconductors such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN). Such technologies include those introducing high-efficiency electric power conversion technologies for energy saving and new techniques for controlling and utilizing electric power. Therefore, along with developing fundamental technology, the goal of this research center is to function as Japanfs hub of innovation for developing related technologies by making use of our core technologies. In particular, we have set the use of SiC semiconductors in electric power control as our central problem, and we are aiming to establish a field of electronics technology for processing electrical power.
Research at the Advanced Power Electronics Research Center
@This research center brings together researchers from different technical stages-from semiconductor crystal growth to applications of electric power converters-into a single research unit, and we are pursuing unified and comprehensive gAdvanced Power Electronics Research.h The following three items have been established as our main items for research.
(1) First-generation research and development centered on 1 kV class devices
@Aiming at innovative power electronics in the 1 kV range envisioned for general consumer product use, such as motor control and power supplies of information technology, we plan to demonstrate practical-level technologies for elemental hardware and building equipment, and to establish production-level technology for fabricating the necessary wafers and devices for them.
(2) Second generation research and development centered on high blocking-voltage/high reliability devices
@The goal is making practical low-cost, highly reliable, low-loss switching devices and modules in the 3?5 kV range, which is envisioned for use in vehicles, railroads and other transportation infrastructure as well as heavy electrical machinery. Development of elemental technology connected to expanding the areas of use for advanced power electronics, such as research on wafers and devices and power semiconductor integration technology for increased functionality, will be promoted, and we plan to make demonstration and development of this technology possible.
(3) Third-generation research and development centered on ultra-high blocking-voltage devices
@We will provide development for larger scale advanced power electronics,
such as large-scale equipment for infrastructure such as electric power
systems. We plan to develop new technology for wide-gap semiconductors
such as bipolar operational control for ultra-high blocking-voltage switching
devices at 10 kV or more as well as new materials and new methods of crystal growth
aimed at breakthroughs for cost reductions.
@At this research center we plan to carry out active research covering everything from the basics to applications in the research and development described above, positioning it as the sub-item gElectric Power Conversion Electronics Technology h within the third AIST interim plan for gPromotion of Research and Development to Achieve Green Innovation.h
In addition, we should function as global hub of innovation in advanced power electronics with promotions coordinated with research institutions both in Japan and overseas and endeavor to broadcast and disseminate our results.
@What's Advanced Power Electronics